August 30, 2009 § 1 Comment
Day 1 of Orientation: I woke up late, showered quickly, and raced off to Harvard Law School. The first event of the day was a one hour section meeting. Many of us knew each other from the section party the night before, which was very comforting. It felt good to walk into the lecture hall and see familiar faces. I sat with some people I had met the night before, and we chatted until our section leader and torts professor, Professor Goldberg strolled to the front of the room and the group quickly lapsed into silence.
“Welcome to Harvard Law School.” I did get a bit of a chill at these words. As Professor Goldberg spoke about administrative concerns, our other professors, and a bit about torts, I found myself peeking behind me and scanning the rest of the crowd. Were these people future the future leaders of America? Did they look older than me, or more ”law studenty“ than me? Are they as awed by this moment as I was? My overwhelming impression from this and other orientation events that I have attended since then is that my fellow HLS students are, from what I can tell, just as humbled to be attending this school as I, just as fearful yet excited for what is to come.
Later, when we were eating sack lunches provided for us by HLS, some other students organized an impromptu icebreaker. We went around the room and shared the name and a “fun fact” about someone else, so that eventually everyone in the room was introduced. We have 2 former peace corps members, 2 former Teach For America corps members (including me), someone who attended culinary school in New York City, someone who was in the Korean army, a Fulbright Scholar, people who have lived and taught in China, Korea, Japan, Spain, and I’m sure many other countries, someone who spent last summer searching for dark matter (“I didn’t find any”), and many, many other accomplished individuals who I have not yet had the chance to meet.
That eschewed the HL Central organized “bar night” at the Hong Kong (too crowded for my taste) for dinner at an Indian food restaurant and drinks at a section mate’s apartment with a small group of people who I instantly clicked with. Saturday’s events were cancelled due to rain, but the same group (and a few others who didn’t make it on Friday) planned to meet up for lunch at Darwin’s in Inman Square (delicious sandwiches, by the way). I spent the rest of the day studying in the Hark with some members of my section. Saturday night was the Student Government-organized “Pub Night”, with free beer and (very light) snacks, after which some of us decided to go out for Mexican and then to a section mate’s apartment for drinks. I feel like I’ve gotten to know a good, small group of people from my section, and rather than attending the large “all 1L“ events, I have enjoyed these little spur-of-the-moment gatherings that we have largely been planning on our own.
That said, there is a great disconnect between what I expected Harvard Law School orientation to be, and what it has really been. I have found the planning and organization on the part of the school to be lacking. Everything seems very haphazard. I definitely expected more “hand holding” on the part of the school, more time spent with our sections, getting some sort of quick crash course to prepare us for the infamously daunting 1L year. I felt like saying, “Wait a second. My social events calendar is missing…You know, mixers, formals, clambakes, trips to the Cape.” Orientation events seem to have been an afterthought, very “Oh yeah, we should plan something. Umm…can we just put some pretzels in a bowl and give them some beer? That’s good enough, right?” I’m not complaining, because if there were more events I might have been overwhelmed and equally annoyed, but I guess I just expected a little more. Maybe it’s because of “these economic times…”
But, again, any disappointment I feel at the formally scheduled events is overshadowed by how impressed I am with my fellow students. I was sort of expecting popped collars, old money, and Ivy league airs and, while I’m sure they’re out there, everyone I’ve been fortunate enough to meet has been just…normal. Insanely intelligent, interesting, and oftentimes funny. But, mostly, normal. I think I’m going to like it here 🙂
August 27, 2009 § 1 Comment
So, this being the last week of freedom before law school starts, I have had a lot of time on my hands. Having free time, for me, generally means more of an opportunity for the OCD/Type A aspects of my personality to kick in. These personality traits lurk deep within, generally masked by my absent mindedness and pleasure seeking instincts, but when I have free time I am known to become a bit obsessive about self-improvement.
This summer, this tendency of mine has been manifested in my mental linkage of success in law school to success in life in general. This basically means that I have convinced myself that the extent to which I eat tasty, nutritious meals that I have cooked myself, keep my finances under control, have a spotless, organized apartment, and exercise regularly will be correlated to how well I do academically this semester. This is probably because I feel that if I let things slide in one area of my life, I am more likely to let them slide in other areas of my life.
Here is a window on how my mind works: if I let my apartment get too messy, I am less likely to feel motivated to exercise, because it will be too difficult to find clean, appropriate workout clothes. If my finances disintegrate (as they have been known to do), I will not have money to go to the grocery store and buy healthy food to cook. And let’s be honest–very few people like to study. As a future section-mate commented to me, computers are temptresses, and I have been known to succumb to the temptation of the Internets when I should be studying way too many times.
But this summer has been different. Without a job, and with no real obligations until school starts, I have been able to obsess over law school, read up on the courses I will be taking, read a couple of books I have been meaning to get to for a long time (non-law school related), spend quality time with my boyfriend, and explore a foreign country. I have also moved from Phoenix to Boston, set up a new apartment, gotten settled in, explored my new city, and organized myself for the upcoming school year.
Through all this, I have been able to exercise more or less regularly (especially since I got settled in here in Boston). I have been running around campus, have checked out Hemenway Gym, and have even taken two group exercise classes on campus. The first was spinning, which I really enjoyed–the class was loud and boisterous, I sweated buckets, and I really dig the visualization aspect of it. The second was Pilates, and judging by how sore my abs are today, I will definitely be going back. I really need to strengthen my core so that I don’t end up a hunchback by the end of this year! In addition, I have been cooking almost all of my meals with food purchased from the Union Square farmers’ market, Whole Foods, and the Star Market next door.
On the finance front, I am pretty heavily in debt, but thankfully very little of my debt is credit card debt. My credit score leaves much to be desired, but I’m working on it. I transferred my Arizona retirement money (around $11,000) into an IRA to be managed by a financial planner, who is also going to oversee my student loan money and help me invest and budget my meager living allowance. I signed up for Mint, a personal finance website that allows me to track and budget all of my money, allowing me to review my checking, savings, credit card, and student loan accounts all on one page and providing many tools to assist with budgeting.
And today I used my last monies before student loan checks come out to go buy a new outfit for orientation! I was able to get a dress, cardigan, belt, and shoes for under $150. I’ll take some pictures tomorrow before I head off to orientation and post them when I get a chance.
So all of this is to say that I am feeling really, really good right now. I am as ready for law school to start as I ever will be. Tonight I meet most of the students in my section, and tomorrow is the first day of orientation. Classes start Tuesday. I already have a pretty heavy schedule of reading, and I want to tackle all of it by Sunday. I know there were many who doubted that I would ever go to law school after my years of indecision and seeming procrastination. What to some seemed like dawdling, though, was really the best decision I ever made. Yes, I am entering law school at pretty much the worst time, economically speaking, possible. But if I hadn’t had the opportunity to teach, I wouldn’t have had the single-minded focus that I have now on becoming a child advocate. If I hadn’t met Bryan, and had the chance to live with him for almost a year while teaching for a third year, I wouldn’t be starting this adventure with my best friend and rock there to support me through the tough times. Even if he is thousands of miles away, Bryan always makes me feel so secure. He listens to me, understands me, gives me advice, and helps me make decisions. Bryan, if you’re reading this–I love you and I am so glad that I didn’t listen to you when you told me not to defer law school 🙂
So it’s time. I know who I am. I know why I am here. I know what I have to do. And I am ready to blow this place away. Welcome to Harvard.
August 25, 2009 § Leave a comment
-My new roommates have arrived and settled in. We now have a full house! I like not being alone here anymore, having someone to talk to, commiserate with, etc. This house finally feels like a home!
-Orientation starts on Friday. Harvard’s schedule for orientation doesn’t seem very full. We have some meetings with our section, some lunches and dinners, tours of campus and Boston, and a welcome reception on Monday night before class starts on Tuesday. I will try to post a daily update of each day of orientation. Some might be shorter than others.
-Oh yeah, and there are also bar nights scheduled for every single night of orientation. One of the places, I hear, is famous for its Scorpion Bowls, which are giant bowls of liquor with a tiny scorpion at the bottom. Teams race to drink the liquor through straws and get to the scorpion. Sounds to me like law school is just like undergrad, except people are actually 21. I will be partaking very judiciously in these events.
-3 of my professors have assigned assignments so far. In torts, I have an orientation assignment and 38 pages of reading for the first day of class. Not so bad. In property, I have two cases to read, but they are in the Supplement, which isn’t available until Wednesday. Great. In Legal Research & Writing (LRW), I had 4 really short articles to read. So far, I’ve read the articles for LRW and the torts orientation assignment.
-My major beef with Harvard right now is that lack of a centralized system for disseminating information about our assignments. We have to check like 3 different places to find out if, or what, we have. Some have emailed, some of sent out course announcements that we have to find on myHLS (which is a pain to log in to), and some have just posted them on the Course Website, which is also on myHLS. How about 1 email, sent to everyone in the section, with all of the assignments? That shouldn’t be too tough…just make each professor send their assignment, if they are assigning one, by a specific day, and then have an intern compile the assignments into a section-wide email. On the other hand, maybe they are just testing our ingenuity by making assignment finding into a scavenger hunt.
-On the exercise front, my roommate and I have a goal to make it to the gym every morning by 6:30 am. We have been experimenting by going to the gym in the morning together, though not as early as 6:30. We even sprinted all the way to the gym one morning to make it to a spinning class. Great success making it there in time, no success in remembering a water bottle. We are also planning to run a 5K in September. Yay for non-law school related goals!
-Last night I experimented with making a giant batch of oatmeal in my crockpot. Irish steel cut oats, water, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, dried fruit, and nuts = tasty breakfast for over a week. I just put it in the crockpot and woke up to the delicious smell…now I just need to seek if it lasts for 7 more days (made 8 servings, I already ate 1 of them).
August 21, 2009 § Leave a comment
At a very young age (like, 9) I decided that I’d had enough of childhood and was ready to be a teenager. My favorite TV show was Saved by the Bell and my favorite movie was Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the one where Kristy Swanson plays a cheerleader by day, vampire hunter by night). These shows glorified teenage-hood and I studied them pretty much as rigorously as I now study my pre-law books. I assumed that every teenager’s life was an endless string of parties, shopping, and dating. I knew I wanted to be a cheerleader (mainly for the uniform) and I imagined myself looking like Kelly from Beverly Hill 90210 (long, straight blond hair) and driving a red Ford Mustang convertible. Yet, I was also a hopeless bookworm, and so my dedication to all things ”teenager“ was manifested in an insatiable appetite for teen magazines which, I thought, would teach me everything I needed about how to dress, apply makeup, and act, so that when the sacred time finally arrived, I would be ready. Teen, YM, Seventeen–you name it, I read it cover to cover every month, and couldn’t wait until the next issue arrived.
One article that I remember that was repeated every so often in the various teen magazines that were my bible was the fashion quiz. This was a quiz designed to tell you what your ”fashion style“ was, or should be, based on your answers to some pretty generic questions. The categories were always the same–sporty, trendy, classic (preppy), romantic, and (sometimes), artsy. I agonized over quizzes like these, trying to figure out which box I best fit into, but I never could find a satisfying answer. Sometimes I liked to dress trendy, other times I felt the need to go sporty. Did people really just stick to one fashion “style”? How are you supposed to know what style to go with? These questions perplexed my overly-analytical mind and, I’m sort of embarrassed to say that sometimes they still do.
You might be wondering where I’m going with this….stick with me, I think I have an actual point here. You see, I still like to read fashion magazines from time to time, though not as obsessively as when I was a child. I watch shoes like What Not to Wear, which stress how what you wear communicates who you are with most of the outside world (i.e., the people you come into contact with, but never actually talk to, like the people on the train or on the street). I think this is more of an issue in places like DC and Boston, where people actually walk to school and work, actually take trains, rather than places like Phoenix, where the average person drives alone in a car to the same job every day, where they see the same people, who generally have the opportunity to get to know more about someone than what can be conveyed by clothes.
In addition, I really like to people watch. I spend a lot of time when I am in public places looking at others (hopefully secretly), thinking about who they might be, examining their clothes (I just realized that this makes me sound really creepy). I am really interested how people in different cities and regions often dress very similarly to each other and very different than people in other places I have been. I coined the term “GC” (Glendale Classic) for the inhabitants of Glendale, Arizona who wear skull t-shirts, black and white flat-brimmed caps, and drive big trucks (men), or cut-off frayed denim mini-skirts, star jewelry and tattoos, platform foam flip-flops, and also drive big trucks (women). I was truly fascinated by the fact that most girls in DC wore exactly the same outfit almost every day–Ralph Lauren polo shirt or button up shirt, Longchamp, Vera Bradley, or Lands’ End tote, 7 for all Mankind jeans, pearl necklace and earrings, flip flops, and a North Face fleece if it was winter. Literally, entire sororities dressed like this EVERY SINGLE DAY. Yet, while I make fun of them, getting dressed must have been very simple. No need to think of new outfits or match items, as everything was designed to go together and be replicable day in and day out, regardless of the situation. For example, the same outfit could work for the gym (swap the jeans for black tight pants and the polo for a sorority t-shirt, keep the fleece, pearls, and tote) or work (swap the jeans for a pencil skirt, add heels, keep the Ralph Lauren button-down and pearls). I could never adopt a uniform with such tenacity, but part of me understands why these girls did it.
Which brings me to my original point–what is my own, personal style, and how can I adapt it to the lifestyle of a new city without losing my identity? I know what clothes I like, in theory. I like a mixture of classic mixed with some unexpected, bold, funky pieces and colors. I like cute shoes but my feet don’t. I like to be comfortable, yet stylish, and I don’t want to be wearing the same thing as every other girl in my section. The hard part, for me, is figuring out how to create a personal style that works when I have to walk a mile to the train station, or when it’s 20 degrees outside, or when I’m studying for 7 hours straight in the library. These, the realities of my life, don’t always mesh with the idea I have in my head of how I want to look and how I want to present myself to others. The truth is, life is not like it seemed in the glossy pages of the teen magazines I read as a child, and personal style does not fit neatly into the parameters of a quiz. I now live in a city with four seasons, that is incredibly hot and humid right now but that will become positively frigid way too soon. No matter what outfit I put on, I return home after exploring this city caked in at least three layers of my own sweat, yearning for a ponytail and some sweatpants. My feet always hurt, no matter what shoes I wear, and as cute as some of the dresses I have are, none of them really work with a bike and a helmet, which is the easiest way for me to get around now that I don’t have a car.
And then, there is the issue of money. I don’t really understand how people find the money to put together actual outfits, with matching shoes, jackets, and accessories. I can usually afford to buy a cute shirt from Banana Republic or even Anthropologie, but I’m going to take it home, hang it in the closet, and then either wear it with the same old pair of jeans and flip-flops, or not at all. The thought of spending money on a top, bottom, matching shoes, jewelry, and jacket to create an “outfit” is pretty much out of the question, given that I’m living off of student loans and trying to save money for plane tickets to Japan. I have a lot of nice things in my closet, but somehow I have never figured out how to match everything together to create multiple, cute, comfortable outfits for every possible situation from what I have (sort of like those DC sorority girls).
So next weekend is the last weekend before school starts. I will have a lot of different orientation events to attend, but I will also have a little free time. I’d like to go through my closet and pull out some things I already have, but for some reason don’t wear. Then I’m going to figure out why I don’t wear them, and come up with what I would need to supplement them so that I can create different looks building off of what I already have. I’d like to start a weekly blog post where I show off the new Boston outfits I create, sort of a Look-of-the Week. That will give me some motivation to actually think about what I’m wearing and how I’m presenting myself to my classmates and peers, and will also give me a fun outlet that is not directly related to law school.
I’ll leave you with my interpretation of Boston fashion, based off of my two trips on the T to downtown Boston and my various excursions around Cambridge. The typical Bostonian woman prefers comfort above fashion. She wears Asics running shoes with everything. A typical outfit is running shoes, khaki cropped pants, a solid-colored fitted t-shirt, a Coach purse, and a jogging stroller. She also carries a windbreaker or fleece. Hair is brown and pulled up. Some also wear a Boston Red Sox hat, although that is more common with Boston men, many of whom I suspect actually sleep in their Red Sox hats.
August 19, 2009 § Leave a comment
So here’s a summary of how may days seem to inevitably go during these dwindling weeks of sumemr: Wake up. Eat breakfast of Greek yogurt and fruit while talking to Bryan on Skype. Spend 2-3 hours doing a combination of talking to Bryan on Skype, chatting with Bryan on Yahoo, facebooking, twittering, and google reader-ing. Feel guilty for not doing anything. Make to-do list. Bravely set out with my iPhone (so I don’t get lost), bike helmet (so I don’t die), and very little money. Get lost, almost killed, and spend too much money. Return home sweaty, thirsty, hungry, and needing to pee. Cancel the rest of my plans for the day due to above. Spend 2-3 hours in the afternoon surfing the net, facebooking, twittering, waiting for Bryan to wake-up, talking to Bryan after he wakes up, and doing a little pre-law school reading (emphasis on little). Feel guilty for not doing anything productive. Decide to cook a healthy yet delicious dinner. Go to Star Market for ingredients. Cook said dinner. Eat while drinking wine. Settle in for the rest of the evening to watch movies on computer while surfing the net, facebooking, twittering, talking to Bryan on some sort of chat mechanism. Go to bed too late, despite previous day’s vow to start going to bed at 10 pm to get my body adjusted to my law school schedule.
Things I would like to change over this and next week: Get some exercise other than getting lost while riding bike. When it’s time to study, disconnect from computer AND iPhone in order to improve focus. Spend less money. Stop getting lost.
This last one will necessitate an abandonment of iPhone Maps and a return to the good, old-fashioned paper map. The iPhone Maps app makes it far too easy to only focus on my next turn, and I’m losting the forest for the trees. I need to develop a big picture in my head of this place, because if I’m going to keep this bike riding thing up I have to stop stopping on every curb to check my iPhone Map and start relying on mental pictures in my brain.
I’d also like to see more of Boston, but it seems that every time I set out to do this, I get end up frustrated, lost, thirsty, hungry, needing to pee, etc. One of my plans once school starts is to choose a coffee shop AWAY from Cambridge each weekend day to go and study at all day. Minus my computer (maybe, depending on what type of studying I have to do). With my iPhone in my backpack. Does anyone know of an app that locks your iPhone so that all you can do is make calls (i.e., no checking email, facebook, and twitter obsessively?).
One more update–the new roomie, Elaine, arrived today, with her adorable mother. I can tell we are going to get along really well. I’m so excited to have someone at home to talk to! Although, I’m a little embarassed to admit, that her first morning in the apartment I spent in my nightgown breaking my record for Skype time with Bryan (over 4 hours…I know, pathetic. If your name rhymes with Yasmine, I apologize for ever making fun of you for anything having to do with a web cam).
Alwso–need to blog more. I always think about writing a blog post, and then decide it will take too much effort/time. But every time I sit down to write, the words just flow out, coherently or not, and I feel much better about whatever is bothering me at the time.
That said, my plan now is to find something in my kitchen to eat for lunch (so as to save money) and study (without the computer in front of me). Chau!
August 12, 2009 § Leave a comment
A lot has changed in the last week! Monday, August 3 I bid a tearful goodbye to Bryan, flew from Okinawa to Tokyo to San Francisco to Phoenix. It was really hard to say goodbye to Bryan. This summer was absolutely the best summer of my life. I got to spend every single day with the love of my life in paradise. I was able to rest and relax, while also managing to get in studying and sightseeing around Okinawa. Soon, the law school grind will start and I will look back on my relaxing days in Okinawa nostalgically. More than that, it was so hard to say goodbye to Bryan. The military makes it so that we never know what is going to be sprung on us. We don’t know if or when he will deploy next, and it is possibly (though not completely likely) that he could deploy again very soon, perhaps even before I get to see him next. In addition, we have built this beautiful house in Okinawa, and now Bryan is there alone. I wish I could be two places at once. But, we have Skype, web cam, and the wondrous iPhone to connect us. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and we were prepared for this.